There’s a whole lot of love in the house of the Lord

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The general area around where I live has many different businesses but it still can identify itself as a family neighborhood.  If my wife and I had children in school age, we would feel very confident to raise our children here.  There are shopping centers, grocery stores, convenience stores, department  stores, gas stations, and even a local Emergency Room.  There are doctor and dentist offices.  And we are only little ways from Lake Erie and access to recreational opportunities on the lake.  There are many places of worship to choose from and the folks around here are friendly.  They’re “good people”.  We feel safe and secure.  We’ve never had an issue.  This makes me smile a lot.

When I got married to my wife Nancy, we  wanted to find a place to worship in as we both were attending different churches.  What did we do?  We took it to the Lord in prayer.  It wasn’t long that we both came into agreement and it has been a tremendous blessing.   Oh by the way, we will be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary in May.  We were  married in the church we now attend.  We have been so blessed.  We are confident this is where the Lord wants us.

What drew us to this church?  There’s a whole lot of love in the house of the Lord.  Our church is filled with the Love of God.  Our church’s mission is Connecting People to a Growing Relationship with Jesus Christ.  That being said, is the same kind of love being poured out when church is over.  What are we doing outside of the church walls?  Jesus said this, And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”” Mark 16:15 ESV  And Jesus also said this,  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV   It’s a tough question.  What are we doing outside of our church walls?  It’s fine that you may attend a church full of love for you.  But what about the lost outside of church who are headed to an eternity in hell.  Yes, hell.  It’s not a pretty picture.  I hope that you are not saying or thinking that you’re ok and that’s not your problem.  That kind of  thinking is not biblical.  Jesus gave us a command.  We must be obedient to it. 

praying for the lost

Friend, I’m asking you to think about this.  Really think.  I wouldn’t want anyone to perish because we were selfish; thinking only about ourselves.  The man who told me about Jesus in 1999 was not selfish and loved me so much that he told me about Jesus.  Did you get what I just said?  The man loved me so much that he told me about Jesus.  Love isn’t only inside of the church to get people to attend.  If a church is like that they are missing the most important command of God.  The Apostle Peter said this, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 ESV  We must take the Love received by accepting Jesus into our lives and go tell a world about it.

You have a choice.  This is my challenge to  you.  I ask you to pray and listen to what God is saying to you about a lost and dying world and how you can reach them; to pour out the love that Jesus gave you when He died for you on the Cross.  He took your sins and paid the full price for them.  His death on the cross.  Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  He is the Son of God and He is coming back someday.  You have a choiice.  I will be praying for you. God bless you.

If you have never asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life, you can do that. In humble prayer ask Jesus to  forgive you  of  your sins, repent of your sins and  declare your belief that He died for you and arose from the grave to defeat sin and death for all.

Don’t believe me.  Believe God!

 

 

Through it all…

god's been good

I know that I know that God loves me. He rescued me from the depths of my sorrow, fear, feeling abandoned. I’ve had seasons of great challenge. I’ve had times of pain both mentally and physically. But through it all, God’s been Good. I’ve placed my trust in the Lord and have given up the things of the world. I once thought that these worldly things were necessary for me to be happy. They are not. God has saved me, He has raised me, He filled me with the Holy Ghost. He healed me, to the uttermost. He picked me up and turned me around. He placed my feet on solid ground. For all of this, I thank Him and give Him Praise. Again, through it all, God’s been Good in my life.

You might ask why I am so confident of this.  How do I truly know?  Well, each story or in this case, every testimony is different.  When I received the touch of God, I was at my rock bottom.  Really!  I’m not giving you the standard testimony of someone who now goes to church and is all happy.  That kind of person, I am not.  I am a realist.  I was raised to study and investigate and always question what lies before me.  I lived my whole life that this was the only way.  To cover all the bases; to get all the answers to all the questions.

So how long do you think I studied the question, “Does God love me?”  Well, I don’t have knowledge of how long, but I will tell you it took 45 years for me to think about that infamous question.  My life was at a point where I needed to make a choice.  Sometimes that’s where you need to be so that the only thing left is “Choose Jesus or Die.”   “Oh, come on, George.  Really?  Sounds to me that you are saying all the right things. Is this real?”  Before I asked myself the question “Does God love me?” I was ignorant. I was wandering around lacking any knowledge of God’s love.  Jesus was calling me to come home to Him.  All the while, I closed my ears and eyes of that.  I know now the truth.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)  Yes, He was chasing after me from the beginning of time, though I didn’t know it.

My testimony began with a man sharing his love for me by telling me that there was a man who loved me and wanted a relationship with me.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  For me it was like bait in the water of a great pond filled with fish.  Except it’s not about hooking fish.  It’s all about His mercy and grace that pulled me out with one great pull.  Great is the Lord. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3 ESV) 

You may have heard the following praise, even if you don’t think of yourself as spiritual or religious.  It has been said, “God is Good all the time. And all the time God is Good.”   This has nothing to do with being spiritual or anything to do with religion.  It has everything to do  with relationship.  The Bible says this.  And it is a promise.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”” (1 Corinthians 2:9) “Does God love me?  Most wholeheartedly Yes.”  I now serve One Master.  It’s in Christ Alone that I give my life.  Has it been easy?  No. Have I been blessed?  If you’re looking for me to quantify this question, I can’t.  God’s blessings are immeasurable.  Overflowing.  More than I can even imaging.  His grace is sufficient for me.   Through it all, God’s been Good!

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing.  I  don’t know of the circumstances by which you live your life.  I don’t know if you feel that if God knew me, He couldn’t love me.  But I know this that God loves you with an everlasting love that can never change or be diminished.  If you knew Him like I know Him you would know that He is Alive and death has died.  Jesus paid the price for sin and death by His suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  I’m just asking you to come to  the everlasting love of Jesus and have a talk with Him.  My joy is unspeakable because I know that someone will read this and join in everlasting life, the Family of God.  It’s not how much you have done.  It’s simply about belief.  There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life.  God paid the price for you.  It’s His grace that will be applied to you once you accept Him.

Jesus, You paid the price for all of us to receive Your grace and partake in everlasting life with You in Heaven.  You’ve not applied a lot of rules or duties to receive the greatest gift.  We only need to believe.  Then we will see Jesus in all of Your glory.  Thank You that You have been with me since the beginning of the age and through it all You have been good.  Help me to understand more and more about You.  Bless our relationship Lord.  Forgive me sin and come into my life.  Thank You Lord.  I will serve You until I die.  I’m on the battlefield for the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Sometimes you smile to keep from crying

Hand over hand compassion

God’s Word promises that through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.  And because His compassions fail not, our mercies are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness God.  A rousing “Thank You Lord” is appropriate.  This morning I was watching a story on the television of a young man who has endured the death of his mother in his arms at a very young age.  As the interview progressed the young man said, “Sometimes you smile to keep from crying.”  That statement impacted me.  I grabbed the first blank sheet of paper I could find which was an envelope and jotted it down.  God has certainly been faithful to this young man each morning as he woke up.  The young man proceeded to say how much his life has been blessed.  I started to think deeply about what I had just heard.

How often are we asked, “How ya doing?”  How often do we reply, “Doing good” and we move on.  I have replied the same way at times so that I could avoid a long conversation with someone about exactly how I was feeling.  But this post is not about how I’m feeling but rather how the other person feels when they reply, “Doing good.”  God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us discern at times when someone is hurting or struggling so that we can show the compassion of God and offer His mercies to them.  I have to ask myself do I really cultivate that discernment?

I thought of how many times the young man was asked how he was doing over the many years since his mother’s death.  I thought of his emotions and how he really wanted to cry but yet smiled.  Today his life is being used as a testimony of God’s mercies and faithfulness.  He has moved past the event and into his testimony for God’s glory.

We all know of people who have faced or are facing very difficult and emotional events in their lives.  The Holy Spirit can bring us into an understanding of the need for a compassionate heart and the ability to offer grace and mercy.  Sometimes it is accomplished by words but sometimes it’s accomplished by a loving glance into the person’s eyes where no words are needed.  Sometimes just holding their hand or sending them a card communicates our love.

Friend, my prayer is that God would give all of us His Holy Spirit discernment so when we encounter a person who may be looking for a compassionate and understanding heart, we would be ready and obedient to respond as God directs.  It’s important to remember that the person more than likely is not looking for you to solve anything for them.  They are looking for the compassion and mercy of a faithful God.  Remember others smile to keep from crying.  Maybe just maybe when you need God to send you a person in your time of need with His compassion and mercy, He will.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Seek Me.  You will find Me.

Seek Me. You will find Me.

Jeremiah 29_13From the still small voice of God, He is saying, “Seek Me.”  The still small voice that spoke into existence all things.  That still small voice that brought life from death.  That still small voice that the mountains bow down to.  That still small voice that captures your heart and holds it so gently waiting for you to submit to His love.

From that still small voice of God, He is saying, “You will find Me.”  He is not hiding.  He is not hidden.  He is ready to take you by the hand and pick you up and lead you in His ways.  His hand is not hardened by anger.  His hand will not pick you up and drop you.  His hand is strong yet gentle and filled with grace and mercy.  His hand will guide you into His loving care.  Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand

Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

He saw the greater need

So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14: 10-14 NKJV)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, though He knew of what would happen to John, in His humanness, He grieved. His friend had died. He wanted to be alone. But then something happened that changed everything. It says He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. In the midst of the times in the land, Jesus’ grief and the sorrow of the death of a dear friend, He saw the greater need. He saw the multitude. He saw that the sheep were before Him. They, too, had great needs. Jesus, God in the flesh, set aside His personal grief, and what He was facing and ministered to those in need.

There are times in our life where we, too, face incredible stress, heart ache, and grief. It happens to all of us. We come to a place where we might think no one else has to deal with what I am facing. I’ve said that myself. But I’ve learned that when I can set aside just a little bit of the struggles I face and look to what others are facing and pray for them, I feel a release. I feel comforted in knowing that God knows what I struggle with and He is on it. And when my prayer for others opens up into an opportunity to talk with them, the release is even greater. I want to be able to see, and hear, and feel as Jesus did. With a heart of compassion that always recognizes the greater need.

Heavenly Lord, You poured out Your love to those in need because You desired for them to see their Savior in the flesh. You came to seek and to save that which was lost. As You walked this earth You always ministered with a heart filled with compassion. Help me Lord to walk with Your heart, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears. To set aside our own needs to minister to those in need. May those we minister to see Your light in us. Help us Lord we pray. In Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Sheltering in the midst of the storm

Psalm 91:1-2 1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.””

I have come to like watching the Weather Channel. Mostly because I’m interested in the local weather. Or I like to know what weather lay ahead if I’m traveling. But sometimes I see and hear about severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. I watch live feeds from the areas and see the devastation. I sometimes get to watch the rescue efforts and the people who come to provide relief for those who have lost everything.

I must confess that I take for granted where I live and what we have. We’ve had storms, sometimes even heavy storms, but I have never lost everything as a result of the weather.

The Word of God tells us that those who abide (to remain, continue, stay) in the secret place (the presence, intimate residence) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow (covering, overwhelming protection) of the Almighty. It is where our protection from the storms of life exists. In the loving strength of God who has overcome everything and given everything so that you may find peace and rest.

It reminds me of the old Dottie Rambo song, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. The chorus says,

So let the storm clouds rage high,

The dark clouds rise, They don’t bother me;

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

He walks with me, And naught of earth shall harm me,

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Those who face natural disasters often place their trust in the efforts of others to support them, provide for them, and get them back on their feet. We are instructed in the Word of God to place our trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV) What this verse is saying is that the Lord will support us, provide for us, and get us back on the path He has ordered for us. But how often do we forget? Those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord as Savior, have no other way. They must trust their own experience, skills, and efforts of others. That is their only way. But as Christians, we’re told the Jesus is the only way. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friend, my point is this. The world is a difficult place; a lonely place. We face things that are sometimes overwhelming just like facing disaster. How do we respond to what the world throws at us? Our response should be to run to the place where God can shelter us. The most secret place of the Most High. We should run into the arms of God in an intimate relationship with Him. So that when the world is at its darkest, when the clouds of evil rise, they won’t bother us. We are sheltered by Almighty God Himself, where He takes our hand and walks with us. Where He leads us to His everlasting love and protection.

Do you know how to begin an intimate relationship with God? Has anyone ever told you? Well, it’s pretty simple. Humble your heart and pray. That’s where it begins. With a humble heart, begin to talk to the Lord and invite Him to remove your fears, wipe your tears, and rescue you from the evil and pain of this world. Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s not complicated. When you lift up a prayer to God, He promises to hear you. It may be hard at first, but once you humble yourself and begin to talk to Him from the deepest parts of your heart, you will experience such peace. And in that peace, resides the everlasting love and promise of life eternal. I can help you with this. Will you pray these words with me? It’s not the words that brings eternal life. It’s a humble and believing heart that releases God grace and mercy. Grace and mercy that none of us deserve, but is available to all of us. Please pray.

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to hear my prayer. Lord, I cannot stand alone any longer is the world. I face so many things that overwhelm me at times. I’m in need of Your protection and sheltering. But most, I’m in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord.  Lord, I believe that You suffered and died for the sins of mankind including mine. I believe that You died so that I could have eternal life. I believe that You are the only Way. Lord, after Your terrible death on the cross, You rose from the dead to defeat sin, my sin, once for all. Lord, come into my life and my heart and be my Savior. I submit myself to You and receive Your mercy and grace. Thank You Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. I love You Lord and pray in Your name, Jesus. AMEN

 Don’t believe me, believe God!